[two volumes, original cloth] A Tale. By Currer Bell. In Two Volumes. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1857. 2 pp undated Vol I ads; 8 pp undated ads plus 16 pp ads dated June 1857 Vol II ads. Original blind-stamped greyish-purple cloth.
First Edition of Charlotte Brontë's first novel written -- but last to be published. Although the publication of the three Brontë sisters' POEMS, in 1846, had failed miserably (selling just two copies in its first month), they were each encouraged enough to try writing a novel. Anne ("Acton Bell") wrote AGNES GREY and Emily ("Ellis Bell") wrote WUTHERING HEIGHTS, while Charlotte wrote THE PROFESSOR -- an intensely autobiographical tale, recalling her own experience of teaching at a school in Brussels, where she unhappily fell in love with her employer "the professor." Although it was Charlotte who made the rounds of the publishers, pushing the three novels, only her two sisters' novels were accepted for publication (together in three volumes, in 1847). Encouraged by Smith Elder's rejection letter of THE PROFESSOR, Charlotte quickly worked up another tale, which came to be published as JANE EYRE, also in 1847. Several years later, Charlotte re-worked THE PROFESSOR into a somewhat similar tale titled VILLETTE (the city of "Villette" being a fictional Brussels) -- which, with her pseudonymous fame from JANE EYRE, was readily published by Smith Elder in 1853, the year before her death. Three years after her death, Smith Elder (with the blessing of her husband, who wrote a brief Preface here) published the original THE PROFESSOR, which they had rejected ten years earlier.~This copy is in the primary binding of blind-stamped greyish-purple cloth (there was a secondary binding, two-volumes-in-one in green cloth, within which the remaining sheets were bound beginning in 1858 or 1859).~These two volumes were at some point (unnecessarily) re-cased and perhaps re-backed, preserving the intact cloth casings and the original pale-yellow endpapers. There is very little external wear -- just a peek of wear at the Vol I spine ends and a faint crease across a corner of the Vol I front board; the endpapers of course are cracked at the gutter, but the volume is tight. It is not easy to find a better-looking set. Smith 7 (pp 162-166); Sadleir 347; Wolff 827; Parrish p. 96. Item #13448